Nel's New Day

September 7, 2018

DDT: Week 85 – Increasing Disasters

Between hearings for a new Supreme Court justice and negative publications from insiders from Bob Woodward and the New York Times, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had time to add to his downward spiral.

DDT declares a tariff every time that he goes into a rage with news about his Russian connections, mental state, and other disasters. Today he announced taxes on another $267 billion in goods from China which would fine all Chinese exports to the U.S. As usual, stocks started going down after the announcement. If he carries out his threat, Chinese retaliation would take prices in the U.S. to a higher level of inflation. A month ago, DDT bragged about his reduction in the trade deficit for the second quarter of 2018, but he’s been quiet about the increase in the past two months—7.3 percent in June and 9 percent in July.

A government shutdown can be just 24 days away because DDT really wants to have one. “I would do it because I think it’s a great political issue,” DDT told reporters. He can cause one because he is responsible for signing the budget by September 30 that keeps the government functioning. DDT’s advice came from Rush Limbaugh. “Rush Limbaugh said it’s the greatest thing you can do,” DDT said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that there is “no chance of a government shutdown,” but he turned control of the government over to DDT.

DDT constantly pushes the idea that refugees pose a tremendous security threat and dismissed an intelligence assessment that proves the opposite. AG Jeff Sessions “doesn’t agree” with government research showing a faulty percentage of domestic terrorism. In a Catch 22 system, domestic terrorism isn’t a problem because domestic terrorists can’t be charged with terrorism. Of court, it appears the foreign terrorists are the most dangerous because they are the only ones classified as terrorists. Thus DDT restricts the number of refugees coming into the country.

In DDT’s legacy of orphans, 416 migrant children—14 of them under the age of 5—have still not been reunited with their families despite the July court-mandated deadline for this to be done. The government never had a plan for reunification, and no one has been held accountable. Instead, private citizens must do the government’s work.

DDT’s administration plans to not comply with the Flores settlement, the federal decree governing standards for child migrants since 1997 that these children be in the “least-restrictive” conditions possible. A federal court ruled in 2015 that children must be released from detention jails within 20 days. DDT cannot override this decision, but he can create replacement regulations. These must, however, comply with federal legal standards. Judge Dolly Gee ruled in July that the DOJ could not indefinitely detain children and parents together, the policy that DDT now wants to implement. DDT’s new rules would allow a third-party entity to evaluate jails, but doesn’t specify which entity. New licensing guidelines by the federal government wouldn’t change the miserable conditions in these jails that have histories of violent and physical abuse. Last month, a parent filed a lawsuit after her toddler died soon after reunification following lack of medical care in a Texas jail.

Nike launched an ad campaign to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its iconic “Just Do It’ motto that features controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a message that says “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

DDT explained why he’s avoiding the topic of Nike’s hiring Colin Kaepernick, the football player who started kneeling at games to protest social injustice and police killing blacks, for advertising: “Nike is a tenant of mine. They pay a lot of rent.” Nike moved out of Trump Tower a year ago but still has another four years on its lease. Conservatives incessantly ridicule and attack Kaepernick for calling on people to “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything,” saying that he had sacrificed very little compared to others. Kaepernick’s ad doesn’t say that he had been the person who sacrificed. He finished his ad by saying, “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.” Kaepernick may be NFL’s worst nightmare even if his ads do support corporate America.

DDT does have a lot to say about Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, and he wants libel laws changed so that he can get “retribution” against the author. Last January, he called for laws to protect him after the publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire & Fury, saying that libel laws are “a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness.” To win libel suits, public officials must prove that the defendant maliciously published false and defamatory statements. Sort of like DDT’s tweets.

In answer to claims that Woodward’s book is a “fabrication,” a current member of DDT’s administration published an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, a highly unusual practice for the publication. “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration” comes from a “senior official in the Trump administration, one of hundreds in this category. The person, whose identity is known by the NYT, supports conservative policies such as less regulation and more military but writes that any progress in conservative policies have come in spite of and not because of the current administration. The person concludes, “The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.” The piece is worth a read.

Frantic attempts at solutions to the anonymous NYT op-ed piece has driven DDT into extreme paranoia and ridiculous solutions. He wants the DOJ to investigate the source of the criticism and demand that the NYT reveal the person’s identity. Libertarian Rand Paul, wannabe president, wants DDT to require every senior official to take a polygraph. (Note that Libertarians supposedly stand for political freedom and autonomy, freedom of choice, voluntary association, and individual judgment with a skepticism of authority and state power. The party’s platform doesn’t require polygraphs.)

DDT’s anti-leaking policy leaked that DDT narrowed the list of authors to 12—13, counting Melania Trump. The use of the word “lodestar” could point at VP Mike Pence and his aides—or it could be a red herring wanting people to look in that direction. People have a reason for calling the White House “crazytown” with all its denials and finger-pointing.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has gone so far overboard that she tweeted a request for people to jam the NYT phone lines and gave the telephone number in violation of federal regulations. Former White House ethics czar Norm Eisen wrote:

“A government official inciting the public to flood the phones of a private corporation & media outlet with harassing calls–openly interfering with its work–is a violation of the prohibition on “Misuse of Position” in 5 CFR 2635.702. Oh, the 1st Amendment is kinda relevant too.”

Some GOP senior officials anonymously support the op-ed, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) says he knows of no role that Congress would have to investigate.

DDT’s explosion at this publicity may equal that of Hurricane Florence heading toward a large portion of the United States. This image comes from the European model, more accurate than U.S. reporting, from two days ago. Since then the storm has calmed down somewhat but may accelerate into a Category 4 hurricane by the time it hits the east coast of the U.S. within the next few days.

With its new president, Mario Abdo Benítez, Paraguay will keep its Israel embassy in Tel Aviv after claiming that it will join the U.S. in Jerusalem just three months ago out of concern for renewed violence in the Middle East. On the day that the U.S. embassy was formally opened in Jerusalem, Israeli forces shot and killed 58 protesting Palestinians. Israel retaliated in Parguay by closing its embassy in Asunción and recalling its ambassador.

DDT has taken 234,000 acres of land near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area from the public to open it up for mining. That’s over 365 square miles in a wilderness area with over 1,000 lakes, over 1,000 miles of canoe routes, and many hiking trails. Mining brings harm to water quality and risks to the tourism economy. Last year, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had promised a two-year environmental review before opening the watershed to mining. Nine-eight percent of the 180,000 respondents supported protection for the watershed. DDT had already reinstated two expired federal mineral leases that could be taken by a foreign-owned company; its owner leases a house to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in Washington, D.C.

DDT went to Montana yesterday to tell 10,000 people about the NYT op-ed, his mental health, and the possibility of his impeachment, managing to slip in a few mentions about a GOP candidate during the hour-long speech. Amidst a multitude of lies, he covertly praised GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) for physically attacking a reporter asking a question the night before his election in 2016. The representative later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault.  The high school students in the plaid shirt and MAGA hat were removed because they didn’t look enthusastic enough. Video here.

Federal prosecutors are investigating the Trump Organization for violation of campaign finance laws after the guilty plea by DDT’s former attorney Michael Cohen and his admission about payments to hush Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Allen Weisselberg, the organization’s CFO, is cooperating. DDT wants to make his cooperation, “flipping,” illegal.

October 1, 2017

Christian Nationalism Lacks Rational Thought, Decency

Various claims for Hillary Clinton’s loss are her not visiting Wisconsin and Michigan, not articulating her economic program, and relying on “identity politics.” Nobody addresses her faith in the voters to be, as David Masciotra wrote, “sufficiently thoughtful and moral to reject the prospect of a historically illiterate con man who routinely makes racist remarks and once boasted of committing sexual assault, acting as President of the United States.” Almost 63 million people used the excuse of Clinton’s private email server to all an impulsive man displaying a serious case of ADHD to be in control of the nation’s nuclear weapons. Progressives lose at the ballot and across the culture because they consistently overestimate the intelligence and decency of the American people. She assumed that the majority of Americans operate according to rationality and compassion.

During a pre-election debate, DDT blamed Clinton for not reforming the tax code while she was a senator; she had to explain to him how a bill becomes a law. But 37 percent of people cannot identify one freedom in the First Amendment, and 25 percent can’t correctly name all three branches of government. Sixty-four percent of people want NFL to force players to stand during the performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at a commercial event. They have forgotten that the first man who “took a knee” at an NFL performance was protesting the police killings of unarmed black men without any penalty. Colin Kaepernick took this action instead of sitting during the national anthem because Army veteran Nate Boyer made that suggestion. Boyer’s letter to Kaepernick stated in part:

“I’m not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I’ve never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you’ve gone through is as ignorant as someone who’s never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it’s like to go to war.”

Three-fourths of white people in the United States are claiming great respect for the flag but not for people with dark skin.

Ignorance of geography also leads to people looking at “others” as subhuman. The more accurately that people could identify North Korea, the less likely they were to support military action against the country, an action that comes from DDT’s incitement. In 2015, 30 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats wanted the United States to bomb Agrabah—the fictional setting for Disney’s animated feature film for children Alladin.

Only 54 percent of people in the U.S. knew that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens before the recent publicity. Of those who know they are citizens, 81 percent wanted strong support; of those unaware of their citizenship, only 44 percent supported assistance.

In an example of current Republican philosophy, Alabama selected far right-wing evangelical, Roy Moore, for their standard bearer in the Senate. As their candidate, he goes against Democrat Doug Moore on December 12, 2017 to replace Luther Strange who was appointed to replace Jeff Sessions.

Moore twice lost his elected office as Supreme Court justice because he refused to follow the law. The first time (2003) he kept a two-ton monument to the Ten Commandments in the central rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building afer being told to remove it, and the second time (2016) he was suspended for telling probate judges to ignore the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing marriage equality. His position was that Alabama didn’t have to follow federal law.

Supported by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and sidekick Mike Pence, Moore could reinforce his positions in the U.S. Senate:

Homosexuality: “Homosexual conduct … is defined by the law as detestable…. When we become one nation under god again, when liberty and justice for all reigns across our land, we will be truly good again.”

9/11: The attack by 19 terrorists was divine retribution because of Isiah 30:25 – “There should be up on every high mountain and upon every hill, rivers and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter when the towers will fall.'”

People of Color: “Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be god.” He defends his slurs on Native and Asian American communities with lyrics from the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children”: “all the children of the world—red, brown, yellow, black and white.”

Vladimir Putin: “Maybe Putin is right” in “protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda.”

Same-Gender Marriage: The ruling for marriage equality is “even worse” than 1896’s Plessy v. Ferguson, establishing racial desegregation, “the words are not there [in the U.S. Constitution,] we’ve never had it in our history.”

Sharia Law: Muslim law is in the United States, especially in places in Illinois and Indiana—or maybe not. “I was informed that there were. But if they’re not, it doesn’t matter. Sharia law incorporates Muslim law into the law. That’s not what we do. We do not punish people according to the Christian precepts of our faith — so there’s a difference. I’ll just say this: I don’t know if there are. I understand that there are some.” [He missed the point about Christianity actually punishing people by eliminating LGBTQ and women’s rights.]

Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress: “Enough evidence exists for Congress to question Ellison’s qualifications to be a member of Congress as well as his commitment to the Constitution in view of his apparent determination to embrace the Quran and an Islamic philosophy directly contrary to the principles of the Constitution. In 1943, we would never have allowed a member of Congress to take their oath on Mein Kampf, or someone in the 1950s to swear allegiance to the Communist Manifesto.”

Right to Work and DACA: “Right to work?” Moore asked a questioner at an American Principles Project in April. “Explain…a little bit.” The response to a question about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: “Pardon? The Dreamers program? Why don’t you… quit beating around and tell me what it is.”

Barack Obama: “My opinion is that there is a big question about [Barack Obama’s place of birth]. My personal belief is that he isn’t [a U.S. citizen], but that’s probably over and done in a few days, unless we get something else to come along,”

Last fall’s general election pitted a rational, intelligent, compassionate, decent woman against Christian nationalism’s champion, DDT. George W. Bush coalesced evangelical power, creating a time when conservative politicians are forced to declare the U.S. as a “Christian nation” to be successful. That belief forces them to be Islamophobic and anti-immigrant. The force of Christian nationalism is so strong that DDT couldn’t even get a candidate elected by claiming that “[Luther Strange] knows the true source of America’s strength — it’s God, it’s family and its country.”

DDT was up against a candidate who out-Christianed DDT and Strange—and up against his former chief political strategist, white supremacist Steve Bannon, who campaigned for Moore. For another man, Moore’s win would weaken political power, but DDT believes he can control anyone. He may have trouble, however, with a man who seems afraid of nothing because his god is on his side.

Christian nationalism has been around for over a half century, but it accelerated with DDT’s rise.  Their reverence for the American “founders” is not only unusual in industrialized countries but also skewed from reality as is their perception rights provided by of the U.S. Constitution. The Christian nationalists’ rejection of science, education, and government is also antithetical to the beliefs of the founders.

Although less common in U.S. history, there are ample examples of DDT-style Christian nationalism in other parts of the world. Like Russia and China, U.S. controlling religious groups want to impose their beliefs on others. Christian nationalists in Germany were largely responsible for the rise of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. The Nazi sense of “family values,” disturbed by the shift in gender roles after women joined the workplace in World War I, also contributed to increasing popularity.

A study among 11,000 randomly selected people in the nation found that the Christian nationalist narrative, more about country than faith, united religious groups and those with sexist, Islamophobic, and anti-refugee beliefs in a perfect storm of symbiosis. As shown by the firestorm over people not standing for the national anthem, DDT’s form of patriotism is the new piety of intolerance. The chief author of the report, sociologist Andrew Whitehead of Clemson University, said,  “The legacy of white Christian America is going to live on.”

September 20, 2016

Kaepernick Starts New Movement, Creates Dialog about Entitlement

I hate writing headlines. Long ago, as a journalism teacher, I learned that they needed verbs and should never use a form of the verb “to be.” But how to encapsulate almost 1,500 words into fewer than ten–almost impossible for me. This blog is about racism, sexism, peaceful protest, white entitlement, a new movement–and more. Here goes!

Colin Kaepernick has started a movement. In only three weeks since the San Francisco 49ers quarterback sat during the playing of the national anthem before a football game, professional athletes have been joined by athletes in colleges, high schools, and youth leagues throughout the nation to protest against the injustice for people of color and LGBT people in the United States. Instead of remaining seated, however, protesters are kneeling to show respect for the anthem and military while drawing attention to racial inequality and police brutality. The photo below is of Kaepernick and Eric Reid before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte (NC).

colin-kaepernick

The most recent protest came from four players on the Philadelphia Eagles who raised their fists during the anthem after Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man with raised hands, was shot and killed by Tulsa (OK) police officers. At least 15 black men have been killed by police since Kaepernick began his protest on August 26.

Death threats have been sent to youth as young as 11 years old, and professional players have lost endorsements. Ohio’s high school athlete, Rodney Axson, decided to join the protest after he heard his teammates refer to players on the opposing team with the “n-word.” Since then, he has been the brunt of this term as well as a message that reads “Lets Lynch Ni—gers.” The school now plays the anthem while the team remains in the locker room. The same thing happened after lesbian Megan Rapinoe, Seattle Reign’s professional soccer star, knelt during the national anthem.

Lincoln (NE) Southeast High School student Sterling Smith explained his kneeling:

“I’ve learned that walking in the ‘wrong neighborhood’ past 10:00 o’clock wearing colored skin can get you questioned by the police because you clearly have ulterior motives. I’ve learned that blatant racism is only humor and that I need to ‘not take it so seriously.’ I’ve learned that going to a store will get you followed by employees because obviously your intentions are to steal.”

Donald Trump led the hatred toward a man who conservatives call “unpatriotic,” and NFL executives have unleashed their anger, one of them going as far as to call him a “traitor.” The flag is sacred to these people while women are disposable as shown by Darren Sharper’s nomination to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Less a month ago, he was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison as a serial rapist after pleading guilty in May 2015 for drugging and raping women in four different states as well as pleading guilty or no contest to rape or attempted rape charges involving nine women. Sharper also has other pending cases, including those in state courts. Asked about the nomination, a Hall of Fame said that it’s not about “character.” And Sharper always stood for the national anthem.

David Brooks’ column criticizing athletes for kneeling in protest goes beyond absurd as he revises history to persuade athletes to stand instead of kneel. He describes America’s “civil religion” in 1776 being based on the “moral premise—that all men are created equal.” The omission of women is correct because women still aren’t equal, but the only “equal” men in 1776 were the white landowners. Blacks were considered three-fifths of the other white men as determined in the U.S. Constitution and white men who didn’t own property couldn’t vote. An attempted justification for the clause (Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution of 1787) explains that only enslaved blacks were three-fifths of white people, but this clause remained in the U.S. Constitution until the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments passed almost 100 years later after the Civil War.

Brooks continues his history piece by explaining that this “promised land” is “a place where your family or country of origin would have no bearing on your opportunities.” The entitled white man producing this elegant rhetoric couldn’t be more wrong, and the facts are the reason behind the protests. Yet Brooks attempts to educate protesters that their belief comes from colleges’ not requiring U.S. history—the same high school class that has been co-opted by revisionist historians who want to conceal any bigotry or genocide in our “promised land.”

Another criticism from Brooks is that the number of people in the U.S. who feel “extremely proud” of the nation has fallen since 2003. That was the year of George W. Bush’s preemptive war on Iraq and the acceleration to move the country’s assets from the poor and middle-class workers to the wealthy coupon-clippers. One issue in which he might be right is that “we have a crisis of solidarity.” Unlike Brooks’ impression that the “solidarity” can come from standing instead of kneeling during the national anthem, however, it could come from a cultural shift away from Brooks white entitlement encouraged by Donald Trump’s support of white supremacy.

Missing from Brooks’ pap is that the protest comes from the verse of the anthem that “celebrates the killing of freed slaves who fought against a U.S. government that had kept them in bondage,” as journalist Adam Johnson wrote. Johnson also pointed out that the NFL started the standing for the national anthem in 2009 as the NFL got much more money from the Defense Department instead of being “passed down generation after generation,” as Brooks claims in his column.

Jim Aloisi wrote this statement—and much more—about David Brooks’ column:

“We don’t need the salve of fiction or myth to bring us together as Americans. What we need is a good dose of honesty about our past and our present, an honest conversation leavened and facilitated by civility. The last thing we need is repression of deeply felt emotions that lead to the kind of silent statements being made on sports fields across the nation. If Americans stand in solidarity for anything, it ought to be respect for the exercise of free speech and expression. In this instance, respect for the exercise of that freedom ought to be joined by a candid respect for our history, and a frank acknowledgment of conditions that today still cause many of our citizens to be treated unequally. If we get that right, solidarity will follow.”

Other white conservatives also trash Kaepernick. Columnist Jonah Goldberg thinks that politics has no place in sports. Wayne Newton said that Kaepernick should “get the hell out” if he doesn’t like racism. Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, and others claim that Kaepernick’s wealth takes away his right to protest racism. People angry about street violence in protest to racial inequality also oppose peaceful protests.

Some treat the protest as an isolated event in sports, but Leonard Pitts wrote about Jackie Robinson long ago writing, “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.” As Pitts wrote, protest in the United States “is an act of faith, an expression of the belief that a country founded on that great, self-evident truth can do—and be—better.”

The biggest accusation toward Kaepernick is that he is “un-American” for his actions—always a device to shut people up. (Think of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s committee on “Un-American Activities.”) Calling Kaepernick “a noble and courageous man,” Harry Belafonte said:

“To mute the slave has always been to the best interests of the slave owner … When a black voice is raised in protest to oppression, those who are comfortable with our oppression are the first to criticize us for daring to speak out against it.”

The day after Kaepernick made his first statement about his protest, a black GI started #VeteransForKaepernick to answer complaints about the football player’s disrespect of veterans and soldiers. Answers showed their discontent with U.S. actions—police brutality toward black GIs, lack of treatment for those who return home with physical and mental trauma, homeless, lack of jobs, suicide, etc.

Women who want to protest the nomination of Darren Sharper to the Hall of Fame can sign this petition to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.

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